NEW YORK • Citigroup became the first giant United States bank to definitively tee up a takeover of its leadership by a woman, when it named Ms Jane Fraser, a 15-year veteran of the firm, as its president on Thursday.
The elevation of Ms Fraser puts her in line to eventually succeed Mr Michael Corbat as chief executive.
"In many ways, Jane helped shape the company we are today," Mr Corbat said in an e-mail announcing the change to employees.
Ms Fraser will also become chief executive of Citi's global consumer banking business, serving alongside Mr Paco Ybarra, head of Citi's institutional business. Granting her the title of president, however, was a clear sign that she was in line to take over from Mr Corbat.
While Mr Corbat, 59, is widely expected to remain in place for some time, Citi's announcement offered the latest hope that women are close to cracking the glass ceiling in the country's largest banks.
In April, when the heads of the seven largest banks testified before the House Financial Services Committee, not one raised his hand in response to a question about whose bank might have a woman as its next chief executive.
A week after the hearing, JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon reshuffled the upper ranks of the bank's management to put two women in the running for the top job.
But that announcement did not change the bank's immediate succession plan, which has its two co-presidents, Mr Daniel Pinto and Mr Gordon Smith, as first in line to take over if Mr Dimon suddenly departs.
Very few women have made it to top roles at the world's largest companies. Only 27 of the 500 companies that make up the S&P 500 stock index have female CEOs, according to advocacy group Catalyst.
Ms Fraser led Citi's Latin America operations most recently. Before that, she ran its global private bank and its US consumer, commercial and mortgage business.
She is replacing Mr Stephen Bird, who is leaving the firm, as head of Citi's global consumer business.